Shashank Srivastava, executive director-product planning and international marketing of Maruti Suzuki India, is in Nepal to get familiarized with the Nepali market and take stock of Maruti showrooms in Nepal. Kriti Bhuju of Republica caught up with Srivastava to talk about the sales and performance of Maruti vehicles in Nepal. Excerpts:
Prices of Maruti vehicles have remained unchanged for the past few years even though cars of other brands have become costlier in Nepal. Do you have any plans to increase prices?
The price of the raw materials has increased and the Indian and Nepali currencies have weakened against US dollar due to which import cost has increased. Hence, we are under pressure to make upward revision in prices. But we are trying to keep the prices unchanged so that our customers do not have to suffer. But there is 50 percent chance of the price increasing in the near future.
Maruti long dominated the A1 segment in Nepal. Currently, it is in the second position in the segment. What are your strategies to reclaim the top position?
Yes, I agree that we are in the second position in the segment. But the gap between us and the market leader is very minimal. We are trying hard to again become the leader by focusing more on customer´s satisfaction and expanding our networks.
It is often heard that Maruti Suzuki India is discontinuing production of Maruti 800. Is it true?
The rumor has been doing rounds since 2003, but we are still producing Maruti 800. We will not discontinue the production as the demand for the car is increasing.
Will Nepalis get new vehicles from Maruti stable in the near future?
We are currently conducting the study on what type of vehicles Nepali customers look for. Depending on the requirement of Nepali customers, we will be introducing the vehicles in the near future.
It is heard that your market share has gone down. Is it true?
It is true that our market share has dropped a bit. But if we see our sales volume, it has more than doubled over the past five years. In 2006/07 we sold 1,300 units, but in the year 2010/11 it increased to 2,800 units.
As Maruti has a very good market in Nepal, have you conducted any feasibility study to establish your assembling plants here?
We haven´t conducted such studies yet as it is very difficult to assemble vehicles here in Nepal considering the size of the market though it is growing. The price of the vehicles would definitely go down if we could do so. But it is difficult to import parts of 16 different models and assemble it here.